Unleash the Power of Innovation with Carla Johnson

Mar 19, 2024

The secret to groundbreaking innovation lies not in specialized teams, but in empowering every individual to think like an innovator.


Carla Johnson is the world’s leading innovation Architect, and she is reshaping the way we think about creativity and problem-solving in the corporate world. She says, “You can’t solve new world problems with old school thinking.”


With a 20-year career dedicated to working with leaders and conducting extensive research, Carla is breaking down traditional barriers to innovation. She has authored 10 books and brings extensive knowledge and strategies that foster a culture of ingenuity.


Innovation: Beyond the Research & Development (R&D) Department


One of Carla’s core messages challenges the common misconception that innovation is confined to specific departments like R&D. In her last book, Re:Think Innovation, she shares that her research reveals that a staggering 90% of innovative ideas originate outside these traditional “think tank” hubs. This untapped potential within organizations can be their opportunity to propel growth and foster a more dynamic and adaptable corporate culture.


The Wheel of Innovation:


Carla has developed a framework called “Wheel of Innovation,” designed to democratize the process of innovation, making it accessible to everyone within an organization. This approach not only empowers individuals at all levels but also encourages a more inclusive and collaborative environment where great ideas can flourish.


Observation: The First Step to Innovation


According to Carla, the journey to innovation begins with keen observation. The most successful innovators are those who are highly attuned to their surroundings, able to spot unique patterns and details that others might overlook. This keen sense of observation is the foundation upon which creative ideas are built, leading to groundbreaking solutions and strategies.


  • Action Step: Start cultivating your observational skills by taking a few minutes each day to simply notice your environment. Jot down any anomalies, patterns, or details that catch your eye. Over time, this practice can sharpen your ability to spot opportunities for innovation in everyday situations.


From Observation to Action: Pattern Recognition


Carla outlines a systematic approach to innovation that involves distilling observations into patterns, relating these patterns to one’s work, and then using these insights to generate actionable ideas. This process highlights the importance of not jumping directly to solutions but rather taking the time to understand the underlying patterns and connections that can lead to truly transformative ideas.


  • Action Step: Next time you’re faced with a challenge, resist the urge to jump straight to solutions. Instead, reflect on related observations distill them into identified patterns. How can these insights inform a new approach to your problem?


From Action to Empowerment: Empowering Teams to Innovate


The final step to Carla’s process extends beyond individual creativity and focuses on how leaders can cultivate an environment that nurtures innovation across their teams. As a leader, if you flip the script and ask the simple yet profound question, “Does my boss support my ideas?” you can gauge the openness and receptivity of your organizational culture to new concepts and approaches.


  • Action Step: Host regular Innovation Strategy meetings and coach your team on how to think of creative, yet practical, solutions. Help them understand what your end goal is and share the constraints you’re working within, such as cost and timeline. Lastly, but equally as important, is simply celebrate the process of ideation itself, not just the outcomes, to encourage continuous creative thinking.


Turning Ideas into Impact


Carla urges leaders to understand that even the most unconventional ideas can hold the key to significant advancements and improvements. She encourages leaders to approach these ideas with an open mind, using constructive feedback to refine and develop them into viable solutions. By creating a collaborative process between leaders and staff, you not only enhance the ideas themselves, but also foster a sense of ownership and engagement among team members.


Carla also shares…

  • The surprising link between daily routines and innovative thinking.
  • Why curiosity might be your best tool for business growth.
  • How embracing diverse perspectives can lead to unexpected solutions.


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